Practical steps to developing food security during uncertain times

Not much is more sobering about the fragility of human life than a pandemic.

Beyond the consideration of our own mortality, for many, COVID-19 has been their first experience of even a remote possibility that goods and services we all take for granted might not always be so readily available.

This initial thought can cause a lot of fear and anxiety. This is easily observed in the “great toilet paper rush” in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Large swathes of the population suddenly feel very insecure about their long-term prospects for wiping their arse and have gone to great efforts and expense to ensure the best possible outcome for their derriere.

Unfortunately, toilet paper is likely to be only the beginning.

When these same fearful and panicked hordes have similar thinking about some other commonly available item – soup, beans, cash, bandaids, or god-forbid coffee!!!… the result tends to be a run on those things. This causes mayhem and deprives others in the community access to those same items, in turn, furthering panic.

See… most people are reactive instead of proactive – responding to events instead of anticipating them. Many get away with this only because of the capacity of large infrastructures to endure such things. However, those systems cannot do so indefinitely, and for those accustomed to depending on reacting always working for them, this can produce very uncomfortable and perhaps even fatal outcomes when the breaking point of those systems draws near.

Panic, like most fear, undermines good decision making. It is rooted in our mid-brains where our fight or flight responses come from. When we panic, we are not using our strong, thinking, pre-frontal cortex brains. Therefore, it becomes imperative that our first step in any practical steps to think about long term food security that we start from a place of calm, panic-free thinking.

Calm yet? Good! Keep reading!

Like other areas we’ve written about preparedness, following a strategy is important. Food security is no exception.

The first practical step one should take when considering their food security is to identify a reasonable and achievable goal. This goal needs to be rational. The reality is… there is really no such thing as total food security. We can’t ever be 100% certain of our ability to feed ourselves any more than we can any other area. We must come to grips with that truth in order to make effective decisions.

What is a good goal for food security? If you’re uncertain of a specific goal, start with this: aim to multiply your current supply by three. Have a week’s supply? Great – aim for three week’s supply. Have a month? Aim for three months. Have three months? Aim for nine months. Keep doing this until you and your family believe your on-hand supplies provide the level of resiliency to best equip you for uncertain times and to help others in your community to do likewise.

Next, if at all possible, don’t rush to reach this goal. You’ll make fewer mistakes, waste less, and avoid causing others to go without if you build up slowly. Instead, increase your supply buying by 10% per shopping trip until you’ve met your first goal. Continue to do this until you’ve met your second goal, third goal, etc.

Once you start to build your supplies, purchase shelf-stable or freeable foods that you already consume. Food that you and your family do not eat will go to waste if there is no occasion to need it otherwise. Develop a  “FIFO” (“first-in, first-out”) system where you eat from your pantry the oldest food first and continue to do so as you add new supplies.  Organize the good so that the closest food in reach is the oldest food in your storehouse. In this way, the food is always fulfilling a practical every-day use in family meals instead of rotting on a shelf.

Remember, the goal is resiliency, not to become a doomsday prepper fearfully anticipating loss and demise.

Following the above steps will lead most individuals and families to a reliable supply of food to meet their anticipated needs within a relatively short period of time and without blowing out most budgets. Having a hard time finding the funds? Let us know and we’ll show you some ways we’ve found to squeeze more out of almost any budget.

This plan also allows one to slowly, calmly adapt and scale to their own needs over time and proactively add more pantry, shelves, or freezer space as needed instead of creating yet another situation to need to react by making hasty, unnecessary, and costly decisions.

For those interested in going further

Food security for most will be tied to the supply chains in place in their community. Any supply chain has vulnerabilities and there is no way to entirely mitigate against those risks. What should a calm, rational and resilient person do? Shorten the supply chains.

Whether food comes from a far-off country or one’s own backyard, it comes from a supply chain. The grocery store, the garden… those are both supply chains. The shorter the supply chain, the more resilient it is. Most North Americans rely on very long supply chains for their food. Resiliency is found in finding and using shorter supply chains.

The simplest supply chains are those that are self-managed:

  • Home gardens
  • Backyard chickens or other small animals (ducks, rabbits, other fowl)
  • Hunting, fishing, and foraging

The second-simplest are supply chains within the community:

  • Food co-ops
  • CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Local farms
  • Farmers markets
  • Produce auctions

The most complex supply chains

  • Large grocery stores
  • Big box retailers
  • Online vendors (Amazon, Walmart, etc)

Our family has found the best workable strategy for us to be a combination of all of the above, not placing all of our eggs in any one basket – including those supply chains right here on the homestead. Those also are not without risk. Animals die, gardens fail, fruit trees fail to grow fruit. That is just an inescapable reality.

We happily purchase from the cornucopia of delightful foods available to us in North America in combination with our own self-produced and other locally produced foods. We will continue to do so as long as we are able.

Conclusion

Resiliency is a journey and as with all journeys – the hardest parts are often in the getting started and the patience to enjoy the journey without rushing through it.

Take your time, think about your goals, plan your food security journey, then get started.

In doing so, you’ll produce in yourself more resiliency and in doing so, a more stable family, community, and nation.

Did this article strike a chord with you? If so, we’d love for you to share it.

 

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